Lewd. Rude. Crude. Genius.
It may be but a stringed full monty away from NC-17, but when the most poignant satire so far this year manages to reduce current world affairs to a series of pseudo-sexual temper tantrums among dicks, pussies, and assholes, you know you've got a real winner. Why leave all the big-screen up-chucking to Michael Moore when Trey Parker and Matt Stone's Team America: World Police can do it livelier, funnier, messier, on more people?and with puppets?
In a world where evil terrorists are out to destroy all things free, the bazooka-totin' patriot police force Team America is fighting to save the day the American way. From their headquarters in Mount Rushmore, the world is nothing but a Rambo playground for this egocentric crack squad. But when Joe, Sarah, Lisa, Chris, and their leader Spottswoode discover that someone is giving weapons of mass destruction to the terrorists to carry out an attack that would be like 9/11 times 100 ("But that's?" "Yes. Ninety-one thousand one-hundred!"), they recruit top actor Gary Johnston out of the Broadway production of Lease to cozy up to the evildoers and find out what's going on.
What does it all mean? It means that somewhere in a proverbial utopia, popcorn-munching elephants and donkeys can share a beer, throw their heads back in unified laughter, and frolic together toward the promised land of de-politicized ideological insult. Why? Because unlike most bills these days, Team America is a grade-A bipartisan send-up?no strings attached. Well-deserved potshots are hurled up, down, Left, and Right, but never?amazingly enough?at Bush or Kerry. You might call it fair and balanced, though you certainly can't call it clean.
After all, it's no secret that the South Park creators behind this marionette masterpiece have no concern whatsoever for any standards of common decency, nor, for that matter, the hallowed social reign of the politically correct. For starters?not to risk under-bashing the U.S. ego?the theme song's chorus is "America, f*** yeah!"; the Arab language is reduced to random ramblings of "durka, durka, Mohammed jihad;" there's the scene where Gary pukes for a solid five minutes and then lies motionless in a veritable lake of his own spew; and, lest we forget, the anatomically-correct-enough Gary and Lisa getting it on hard-core in what will become a cult classic spoof of the violins and harpstrings Hollywood sex scene.
While Gary and the team are all fabulous characters, there's no beating the movie's vicious villain: the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il, vocally perfected by Parker himself, who does practically all the voices.
So no, there are no famous actors here?but then again, there are. Alec Baldwin, Sean Penn, Liv Tyler, George Clooney, Helen Hunt, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, and other hyper-liberal, hybrid car-driving Hollywood hacks (including, in the biggest way, Michael Moore) are paraded, parodied and for all intents and purposes destroyed during the course of this film, as they band together to attack Team America for being the real terrorist. Note: none of the real-life actors gave anything even resembling permission to be used in the film. Read: nasty, nasty lawsuits on the way. Are Parker and Stone stoned? Perhaps. But trust me?their recklessness is well worth it.
By the way, good luck hearing even half the fabulously smart dialogue among all the laughter sure to be shaking up theater walls. Luckily, Stone and Parker turn up both volume and comedy for the film's musical numbers. Don't expect anything less than direct-hits from the guys whose last flick picked up a Best Song Oscar nod. And we're not talking "My Heart Will Go On" here. They may not "Blame Canada" anymore, but "You Are Worthless, Alec Baldwin," "Pearl Harbor Sucked...and I Miss You," and "Everyone Has AIDS!" carry their own ammunition of absurdity, as only Parker-Stone tracks can.
Thing is, if satire had a fascist dictator, Parker and Stone would squish him down to a snowed-in animated fourth-grader with a knit hat and take over the post. As anyone with cable and a base morality knows, South Park?the show that single-handedly pulled Comedy Central out from under a dung-heap of stand-up reruns?serves up the most ruthless, take-no-prisoners social taunting on television.
Smarter than Jackass but messier than The Daily Show, this movie will forever change the way you look at, well, just about everything that's messed up in the world. Team America is that clown-around cynicist at the campus-wide who has one too many Natty Lights and suddenly starts to make a whole lot of sense. It's damned near educational. So if you've got the nerve?nay, if you've got the guts?ditch your moral decency at the door, grab a seat, and hoot along.